Newcastle Deploying LPWAN IoT Platform To Provide Deeper Asset Intelligence And Insight

Newcastle City Council, with the help of the private telco NNNCo and funding from the Federal Government, is deploying a new commercial-grade LPWAN Internet of Things (IoT) technology network to collect data like never before. Sensors are being installed across Australia’s 7th largest city 160kms north east of Sydney to monitor the surrounding environment and improve asset management efficiencies.

However, these small sensors are also promising much bigger things…

Not only will this technology help to translate what is happening in the physical world into the digital so the council can make better decisions about asset usage and operation – a key part of this project is to build a technology capability that will be made available to individuals, businesses, entrepreneurs, start-ups and researchers for testing new ideas and rapid deployment of innovative applications.

The Platform

Newcastle’s ambitious IoT project is based on LoRa technology, specifically the LoRaWAN open standard. Without going too deep into the technicalities we can think about LoRaWAN as a new type of WiFi to connect all sorts ‘things’. As discussed in our last blog, what is attractive about LPWAN is that it enables secure, reliable, affordable data transmission over much longer ranges without requiring a great deal of power. A unique feature of LoRaWAN is that because it is an open standard, it enables developers to collaborate around the world, driving momentum in innovation and accelerating time-to-market.

The Implementation

As part of the Newcastle project, 7 sensor gateways are being placed across the city, each with a 5km radius. The network will also include thousands of smaller sensors feeding data back to a central collection point. Together, the infrastructure will provide connectivity for a wide range of smart city services which will include applications like smart parking, lighting, transport and waste management capabilities. Eventually the network will also have businesses, community groups and council services all plugged in. It is all part of Newcastle City Councils strategy to create a smart, liveable and sustainable metropolis – and one that hopes to attract more data-driven businesses and technology start-ups to this rapidly transforming city.

Initial Use cases

Testament to the technology’s ability to quickly ‘turn on’ solutions, multiple use cases have already been deployed over Newcastle’s new IoT network within two months of the plans being announced. These include a smart bin solution for improved waste management, smart parking solution to help motorists find parking spaces and a smart water metering, and soil moisture sensing at a sportsground to help council save on water costs and maintenance. Also in development is a smart tracking solution that will enable a variety of applications including asset tracking, people movement, cold food chain, logistics and transport.

Project Expansion

Lake Macquarie City Council has followed Newcastle’s lead in announcing a similar IoT project. NNNCo will now also help deploy IoT infrastructure across 650 square kilometres of the Lake Macquarie area. Start-ups will be given free access to the network and businesses will be able to receive a 15 percent discount on connecting if they set up operations in the area. The Lake Macquarie network will be commercially funded for 20 years. Already signing on to use the network are the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Hunter Water, Slingshot, Ampcontrol, BinShare, ResTech, and Marine Connect.

Making Sense Of The Data

All of this technology is all well and good, but it doesn’t really mean much until it is presented back to us in meaningful ways. Herein lies one of the biggest challenges of the IoT – all of the asset data collected needs to collected, streamlined, integrated, correlated and presented in forms that give faster actionable insights.

To date there has been a lot of noise about smart watering, parking, lighting and so on, but the IoT conversation has the potential to go far beyond these applications. Through the IoT we are going to be able to monitor and control our assets in yet-to-be-thought-of ways that will transform our businesses, our customers, reduce our impact on the environment, create investment opportunities and jobs, and digitally transform our world. To date, in many industries, we have simply been reacting and responding to things that have gone wrong. Now, however, we have the opportunity to get ahead of our game and respond to events in real-time. The IoT revolution is not just about learning to do old things in new ways, but when data is shared across traditional silos, brand new things can be achieved.

With tag, sensor and device technology continually evolving and delivering new opportunities to innovate – it’s an exciting time to be in this space! If you’d like to learn more about Relegen’s IoT-ready secure serialisation and asset data management platform, don’t hesitate to reach out to Relegen on +61 (0)2 9998 9000 or We’d love to talk!